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Americk CEO: ‘High label quality is critical’

By Jenny Eagle+

Last updated on 23-Jul-2014 at 12:59 GMT

Christopher Hart, CEO, Americk Packaging
Christopher Hart, CEO, Americk Packaging

Patrick Doran, director and owner, Americk Packaging Group, hired former Coveris MD Christopher Hart as its CEO in July this year.

Here, Hart speaks to FoodProductionDaily about his strategic plan for the company.

Cartons, labels, flexibles

Patrick offered me a great opportunity which I couldn’t refuse. The business is in a great condition and no plants need turning around. The company is very healthy, which is a good base to start with,” he said.

We specialise in cartons, labels and flexibles and I will be developing the various companies within the group and the structure to bring us closer together. We will be pulling together more as a group and I will be setting the base and template for that and looking for aquisitions that fit into our portfolio.”

Hart added he will be looking at all the business sectors, but particularly cartons, labels and flexibles because that is ‘where we are strong. We don’t want to be a Jack of all trades’.

As part of the restructure, he has appointed a management team including a COO and CFO who have already started their roles within the company but an announcement will be made externally in the coming weeks.

European expansion

The managing director of each business will continue to report to Hart.

We want to create a business structure to expand into Europe,” he said.

We operate strongly in the UK and Ireland, and some European countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Benelux. We will make sure we stay strong here then look for a market share in mainland Europe which will take a number of years.

We do see market growth in Africa but we need to get our base plan right before we expand in that country.”

Hart added the biggest challenge was pulling all its companies together as one group; it includes Systems Labelling, Webtech, Marchmont Packaging, Primopost and ASP Flexibles.

The main thing is integration of our acquisitions and to put the infrastructure into place. We have GM or MDs in each of the stand alone businesses and the group will be set up as a support structure only, as they will remain responsible for the business in terms of sales, marketing and finance,” he added.

According to Hart, the biggest trend in the labels market is the quality is becoming ‘very critical’ and reducing the cost.

Carton growth

Cartons are now becoming a quality product, we need to align the printing technology to service that market as there is a further growth opportunity,” he said.

"The growth we are expecting as a group will not come organically we are going to have to make acquisitions.

In terms of quality and service, we will not fight on price, the market now is demanding high quality and high service levels because that’s what the consumer is demanding. We don’t want to be a market leader on price.

"A lot of companies want to steal and buy market share on price but that’s only sustainable short term. In packaging there is a huge pressure on raw material prices. We will not be the cheapest in the market and can only differentiate by winning long term contracts.

We want to look at what the customer wants in terms of next generation packaging and work with customers on that ie shelf life and waste.

The next step will be working with the local MDs to get to know and understand their business and find out what I can do for them to move forward.”

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